1 of 37
Slideshow-prev-disabled Slideshow-next
In the 1920s, Lew Cook learns the newsreel business as a teenager and sets up a one-man production company. In his basement circa 1925, he makes one of Oregon’s first clay animated shorts, The Little Baker, about a piece of dough coming to life. He then spends 30 years filming for the military and is one of the first cameramen into Hiroshima. Photo courtesy the Oregon Historical Society, www.ohs.org.
2 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
In 1975, McMinnville-born Will Vinton and codirector Bob Gardiner win Oregon’s first Oscar for the stop-motion tour de force Closed Mondays, pictured here. Image courtesy Will Vinton, freewill.tv.
3 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Rather than head to Hollywood, Vinton fatefully stays in the Rose City and founds an animation studio, Will Vinton Studios. He's pictured here with the swirly glasses and red hat amid his production team for The Adventures of Mark Twain. Photo courtesy NWFC, www.nwfilm.org.
4 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Vinton coins the term “Claymation” and produces a string of iconic characters, from the California Raisins and talking M&Ms to Eddie Murphy’s The PJs. Image courtesy Will Vinton, freewill.tv.
5 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
At its height, Will Vinton Studio employs more than 400 people, training an entire generation of animators. “[Vinton] is an inimitable talent and major contributor to stop-motion animation,” says Henry Selick, director of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Image courtesy Will Vinton, freewill.tv.
6 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Vinton pictured in his office with figures of many of his most iconic characters. Image courtesy Will Vinton, freewill.tv.
7 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
A storyboard from Joan Gratz's Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase, which won Oregon's second Oscar in 1992. An early member of the hardy band of animators working at Will Vinton Studios, she brought with her her own trademark technique: clay painting. Photo courtesy Joan Gratz, www.gratzfilm.com.
8 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
A still from one of Gratz's more recent shorts, Puffer Girl. Image courtesy Joan Gratz, www.gratzfilm.com.
9 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Dubbed the “Queen of Indie Animation” by renowned animator (and Oregon native) Bill Plympton, Joanna Priestley makes work that is loved around the globe. MOMA held two retrospectives of her work in 2000. This is a still from her recent film Dear Pluto. Image courtesy Priestley, www.primopix.com.
10 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Priestley has also made an interactive animated app called Clam Bake, set to a soundtrack by dubstep composer Seth Norman, available at www.primopix.com. Image courtesy Priestley, www.primopix.com
11 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Gratz and Priestley collaborated on Pro and Con in 1993. Image courtesy Priestley, www.primopix.com.
12 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Travis Knight gets his start as an intern at Vinton Studios with the help of his father, Nike’s Phil Knight. In 2003, Phil buys Will Vinton Studios, dismisses Vinton, and names Travis, a gifted animator, the CEO of the company now renamed LAIKA. Its first feature, Coraline, is the first stop-motion feature to be conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3D and is nominated for an Academy Award. Image courtesy LAIKA, www.laika.com.
13 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
LAIKA's second project, ParaNorman, came out in August. Image courtesy LAIKA, www.laika.com.
14 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Image courtesy LAIKA, www.laika.com.
15 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Having started a small studio in 1974, Jim Blashfield and his producer, Melissa Marsland, send his surreal short "Suspicious Circumstances" to the Talking Heads in 1985. The band hires him to direct a music video for “And She Was.” He's pictured here filming the legs in the video. Image courtesy Jim Blashfield, blashfieldstudio.com.
16 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
A month later, the video airs on MTV. Image courtesy Jim Blashfield, blashfieldstudio.com.
17 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Over the next 20 years, Blashfield makes blockbuster music videos for the likes of Michael Jackson and Joni Mitchell. Here, his producer, Melissa Marland, is pictured on the set for Paul Simon's "Boy in the Bubble." “He was the man who set the leading edge for rock videos,” writes the Oregonian in a 2003 profile, “back when rock videos were the biggest thing going.” The Northwest Film Center will screen an evening of Blashfield's music videos on October 26 at 7pm, and a night of his short films on November 8 at 7pm. www.nwfilm.org Image courtesy Jim Blashfield, blashfieldstudio.com.
18 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
His music video of Michael Jackson's "Leave Me Alone" won Blashfield a Grammy. The Northwest Film Center will screen an evening of Blashfield's music videos on October 26 at 7pm, and a night of his short films on November 8 at 7pm. www.nwfilm.org Image courtesy Jim Blashfield, blashfieldstudio.com.
19 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Penny Allen’s first feature film, Property (1978), a satirical look at urban renewal’s impact on South Portland, screens at the first Sundance and is hailed as an indie breakout. “My film grew out of my experience in my neighborhood,” she says, “and, no doubt, out of my lack of fear at trying new things.” She directs Paydirt in 1981 and the documentary The Soldier’s Tale in 2007. Image courtesy NW Film Center, www.nwfilm.org.
20 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Penny Allen hires Eric Edwards as the cinematographer and Gus Van Sant as soundman. She introduces Van Sant to Walt Curtis, whose memoir becomes Van Sant's first film, Mala Noche. Image courtesy NW Film Center, www.nwfilm.org.
21 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Gus Van Sant then hires Edwards, a Catlin Gabel School chum (pictured here filming in 1987), as cinematographer on My Own Private Idaho, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and To Die For. Image courtesy NW Film Center, www.nwfilm.org.
22 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Eric Edwards goes on to serve as cinematographer on David O. Russell's Flirting with Disaster, James Mangold's Copland, Larry Clark's Kids, and Judd Apatow's Knocked UP, among many other films. He's pictured here filming a BBC documentary about Mount St. Helens. Image courtesy Eric Edwards, www.ericedwardsdp.com.
23 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Kinged “an American auteur” by the New York Times, Gus Van Sant adapts Walt Curtis’s Mala Noche into his first feature in 1985, filming entirely in Portland. He becomes a world-class filmmaker with the release of Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and My Own Private Idaho (1991). Image courtesy Focus Features, www.focusfeatures.com.
24 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
By 1997, when Van Sant gets his first Oscar nomination for Good Will Hunting, starring Matt Damon (pictured here) and Ben Affleck, he has inspired a generation of aspiring filmmakers with the idea that they don’t need to start in L.A. Image courtesy Focus Features, www.focusfeatures.com.
25 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Van Sant’s now made 14 films and garnered a second Oscar nomination for Milk in 2008. He's pictured here on the set with actors Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. Image courtesy Focus Features, www.focusfeatures.com.
26 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Van Sant has shot six of his films in Portland, including Paranoid Park (pictured) and his most recent, Restless. "Gus has been an animating force for over three decades," says the northwest Film Center's director, bill Foster. "Not just because he has provided collaboration and working experience for so many, but because he has managed to balance art and commerce with integrity and ever-present exploration." Image courtesy Focus Features, www.focusfeatures.com.
27 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
David Cress, pictured (right) with Portlandia costar Carrie Brownstein and director Jonathan Krisel, creates a makeshift film-school curriculum by combining a business degree at PSU and a television production degree at Mt Hood Community College. He opens Food Chain Films in 1995, which hires local directors to make award-winning commercials for national clients, from the Mr. T Powerball ads to the Columbia Sportswear ads starring Gert Boyle. He leaves the company in 2005 to produce features, including Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park and Restless (Van Sant inspired him to become a filmmaker) and Matt McCormick's Some Days Are Better Than Others, before being invited by Brownstein to produce Portlandia (he had previously produced Sleater-Kinney music videos). In contrast to his predecessors, who often had to go to Los Angeles for big projects, “we weren’t area code challenged,” he says. Image courtesy David Cress, www.davidcress.com.
28 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Matt McCormick starts the experimental film/music series Peripheral Produce in 1996. “The film center seemed oblivious of local experimental filmmakers,” he says—although he gives the NWFC credit for catching on quickly.  Image courtesy Matt McCormick, www.rodeofilmco.com.
29 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
McCormick’s first feature, Some Days Are Better Than Others, starring Carrie Brownstein and the Shins frontman James Mercer (McCormick had previously directed both in their respective bands' music videos) is selected for MOMA’s prestigious New Director/New Films series. Image courtesy Matt McCormick, www.rodeofilmco.com.
30 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
McCormick's new film, The Great Northwest, closes the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival on November 18 at 6 p.m. Image courtesy Matt McCormick, www.rodeofilmco.com.
31 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Carrie Brownstein arrives in Portland in 2001 as a member of the celebrated riot grrl band Sleater-Kinney. After the band calls it quits, she experiments with a number of projects before cocreating and starring in the Peabody Award–winning Portlandia with comedian Fred Armisen. Image courtesy IFC, http://www.ifc.com.
32 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Miranda July moves to Portland in 1996 and makes several experimental videos, as well as narrates Matt McCormick's The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal, before leaving for LA to make Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) and then The Future (2011). “At her most unnerving, Ms. July upends the rocklike surface of social norms to show us the creepy, crawly bits we keep hidden underneath,” writes the New York Times. “But more than anything, her fearless, often playful output suggests the freewheeling creativity of a child.”
33 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Jon Raymond makes experimental films before gaining fame as a quintessential Pacific Northwest author.
34 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Director Todd Haynes, who since moving to Portland has become a guiding presence (he executive produces Buoy, a film premiering at the NW Filmmakers’ Festival), introduces Jon Raymond to Kelly Reichardt, and Raymond writes screenplays for her Oregon films: Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, and Meek’s Cutoff (pictured here, starring Michelle Williams, left).
35 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Raymond also cowrites Todd Haynes’s HBO miniseries, Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, which gets an Emmy nomination for writing in 2011.
36 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
A poster child for Portland filmmaking, James Westby moved to town “because I was obsessed with Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy,” he says, going so far as to move to the William S. Burroughs character's neighborhood. Westby lasts less than a semester at NWFC, but uses its equipment to make his first feature, Subculture, in 1993, which Van Sant contacts him to say he loves, flooring a young Westby. He does commercial work for the creative agency Sockeye, including a Storm Large video, before gaining national attention in 2005 with Film Geek, and then accolades in 2008 with The Auteur.
37 of 37
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next-disabled
Of last year’s Rid of Me, directed by James Westby and starring Portlanders Katie O’Grady and Storm Large, the Huffington Post writes: “Rid of Me is cheerfully obscene, hip, and wickedly funny! Director James Westby is a talent on the march.”
Slideshow-next
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Slideshow-prev Slideshow-next
Slideshow-prev
More Slide shows

Please help us keep this community civil. We retain the right to remove or edit comments containing personal attacks or excessive profanity, and comments unrelated to the editorial content. Consult our Terms of Use for more details.